October 18, 2014
Yahoo! Sports reports that Floyd Mayweather has been sued in Clark County, Nevada by Hasim Rahman, Jr. and Sharif Rahman. The Rahman brothers are suing Mayweather for battery, tortious assault, false imprisonment, negligent hiring, training supervision and retention and unjust enrichment based on an episode of Showtime’s “All Access” series.
The Rahman brothers are sons of the former heavyweight champion, Hasim Rahman.
The series, which was promoting Mayweather’s rematch against Marcos Maidana, featured the Rahman brothers sparring British boxer Donovan Cameron at Mayweather’s gym in Las Vegas. The episode featured a 31 minute round between Cameron and one of the Rahman brothers. During the episode, a timer was shown by the camera to document the time that had passed. Yet, Mayweather claimed there were “numerous breaks” during the 31 minutes when questioned about the incident during his testimony before the Nevada Athletic Commission on September 23rd.
Mayweather referred to his gym as the “dog house” where there were fights to the death. At the time, I thought it was a widely politically incorrect statement considering Mike Vick’s past indiscretions with dog fighting. And, of course, dog fighting in general. The dog house connotation drums up images of arranged matches where the combatants fight until one can no longer go. Essentially, the brutal result of dog fighting.
This is an interesting lawsuit and since we are not Nevada lawyers we can only speak in general about the veracity of these claims. If you recall the episode, it did not appear that either one of the Rahman brothers were unwilling participants to do battle in the ring. Unless there were other things going on behind the scenes that the viewers were not privy too, I do not know about the success of this lawsuit. Of course, Showtime, which shot the footage (and also would know whether Mayweather’s associates smoked marijuana in another episode), would know about the details and we will see if the raw footage will be uncovered during this lawsuit.
October 9, 2014
ESPN reports that Cung Le is expected to appeal his one-year UFC suspension for testing positive for elevated levels of human grown hormone (hGH). The appeal provides a unique scenario in which a UFC fighter will appeal a drug suspension to the UFC acting in the capacity of regulatory authority.
Dana White confirmed that Le has a right to file an appeal which will be overseen by a third-party arbitrator. The arbitration will be through the American Arbitration Association which is standard for many contracts where there are arbitration clauses.
White states in the article that a WADA-certified lab was not used to collect the blood samples for the August 23rd fight card in Macau because the drug testing was decided upon that week. Le’s manager notes that there was a WADA-approved lab in Beijing, China but was not used. A Hong Kong contracted lab was utilized instead.
No date has been set for the arbitration.
A look at a standard UFC contract indicates that a fighter may appeal to a regulatory body and/or commission that oversee drug testing. However, we presume that the UFC was not named as an entity a fighter could appeal to as the ESPN piece initially indicated that Le’s appeal was “breaking news.” If Le’s contract with the UFC had language that he could appeal his drug suspension to whatever entity was regulating the drug tests, it would not really be breaking news. This poses the question of what the UFC should do in the future with more international cards on the horizon yet know concrete policy in place on how to address testing and the potential for appeals of the process.
Le’s appeal will be an interesting case considering the points raised by Le’s manager in response to the positive drug test. Initially thought as damage control, it appears that Le might have raised viable case against the test results. In the end, it points to a problem for the UFC.
October 3, 2014
Earlier this week, a Federal District Court in New York ruled that boxing promoter Don King liable was in breach of contract when his fighter failed a drug test for a boxing event to be held in Russia earlier this year. The parties will now argue about how much in monetary damages that the boxing promoters World of Boxing is entitled to as a result of the breach.
King’s Don King Promotions entered into an agreement which pitted King’s Guillermo Jones for a bout against Denis Lebedev on April 25, 2014. However, the day of the bout Jones tested positive for furosemide, an illegal performance-enhancing diuretic. The drug test disqualified Jones from competing and the fight was called off.
A month later, World of Boxing filed a lawsuit citing a breach of the fight agreement which articulated that Jones was “subjected to drug testing before and after the fight.” King denied the allegations of a breach of contract citing the fact he was only required to “do everything within his control…to cause Jones’s participation.” King argued that he could not prevent Jones from taken an illegal substance. However, while the court acknowledged the fact that King might have to personally supervise Jones to prevent his use of an illegal substance, the issue is whether King failed to perform under the contract (i.e., produce Jones for the contracted event), not whether he could be excused for nonperformance.
He also argued the legal defense of “impossibility.” Essentially, King argued that even if there was a breach, his performance should be excused due to a “supervening event” that was an “unanticipated” event. Here, King argues that he could not have known that his fighter would have used an illegal substance. However, the opinion notes that Jones had a history of using furosemide and the fact that the contract specifically required pre-bout drug testing.
King also filed two counterclaims which were summarily dismissed by the court.
The case was heard in the Southern District of New York which is the same venue in which the Zuffa-New York lawsuit is filed.
For you law school students that are heading back to school this year, this case is a very good one on the basics of a breach of contract and the legal defense of impossibility. The court clearly spells out that in its opinion, there was a clear breach of contract due to the fact that King’s boxer could not fight. Even though King argued that a breach should be excused, he did not satisfy the legal requirements (i.e., the breach was foreseeable due to Jones’ past use and the contract specified a drug test pre-fight). It will be interesting to see what damaged are assessed to King and whether there will be an appeal of the ruling.
September 29, 2014
Welcome to another edition of Payout Perspective. In this edition, we review UFC 178 which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where Demetrious Johnson took on Chris Cariaso in the main event.
Johnson outclasses Cariaso
Despite the lack of fan support (i.e., PPV buys), Demetrious Johnson can legitimately stake a claim to being the best pound for pound fighter in the UFC. It was clear in the first minute that Johnson was the better fighter and ended Cariaso in the second round with a submission.
Johnson is getting prime placement on UFC shows and it’s the second PPV he’s headlined this year. One should also stress the fact that Johnson has not been hurt during his title reign and is not an outside-the-Octagon problem. So, why don’t people buy his PPVs?
Cowboy welcomes Eddie to UFC
The skeet shooting and wakeboarding training regimen pre-fight aside, Donald Cerrone is an extremely good fighter. In what was one of the more entertaining fights on the card, Cerrone defeated Eddie Alvarez. It was the long-awaited debut for the former Bellator champ and the first round he showed why the UFC wanted to acquire his services. Yet, Cerrone moves on looking for another fight before 2014 closes.
McGregor makes quick work of Poirier
You would have thought that this was the main event based on the crowd reactions. The hype, trash talk and vitriol between the two (especially during any face off promoting the fight) was classic in what to do to have people interested in purchasing your fights. The Conor McGregor experience continues and likely his most impressive fight on the biggest platform so far. McGregor easily handled Dustin Poirier in the first round. It’s clear that McGregor is ready for a title shot after Saturday night.
Attendance and Gate
The attendance and gate announced at the post-fight press conference was 10,544 for a gate of $2.2 million. Out of 9 PPVs this year, it ranked 7th in attendance.
The bonuses of $50K each were awarded to Yoel Romero-Tim Kennedy for Fight of the Night and Dominick Cruz and Conor McGregor for Performances of the Night.
Promotion of the Fight
The Embedded episodes continue to be popular as the UFC has found a formula to promote the fights digitally. For the most part, viewers got to see Cowboy Cerrone wakeboarding and skeet shooting prior to his fight with Eddie Alvarez, Conor McGregor get a haircut, Demetrious Johnson getting a shave and Dustin Poirier at the Whole Foods at Vegas. The one thing really missing from the embedded episode was a profile on Chris Cariaso. The Countdown show did have a profile on Cariaso but it seemed incomplete. Even if it was a foregone conclusion that he would likely lose (which happened), it would have been nice for them to have elevated his profile for this fight. It seems to get better reviews than the UFC Prime Time episodes because they are short and can be viewed whenever people want to see them.
Conor McGregor did a good amount of pre-fight press.
Mighty Mouse appeared on the local Fox affiliate in Seattle last week hyping UFC 178.
Salaries have been disclosed via MMA Junkie:
Demetrious Johnson: $183,000 (includes $54,000 win bonus)
def. Chris Cariaso: $24,000
Donald Cerrone: $126,000 (includes $63,000 win bonus)
def. Eddie Alvarez: $100,000
Conor McGregor: $150,000 (includes $75,000 win bonus)
def. Dustin Poirier: $34,000
Yoel Romero: $58,000 (includes $29,000 win bonus)
def. Tim Kennedy: $70,000
Cat Zingano: $18,000 (includes $9,000 win bonus)
def. Amanda Nunes: $15,000
Dominick Cruz: $100,000 (includes $50,000 win bonus)
def. Takeya Mizugaki: $32,000
Jorge Masvidal: $90,000 (includes $45,000 win bonus)
def. James Krause: $15,000
Stephen Thompson: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Patrick Cote: $33,000
Brian Ebersole: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. John Howard: $21,000
Kevin Lee: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Jon Tuck: $10,000
Manny Gamburyan: $50,000 (includes $25,000 win bonus)
def. Cody Gibson: $10,000
Some interesting figures including Demetrious Johnson being paid like a champ (base of $129K). The last official report of his purse was at UFC on Fox 9 where he made a base of $125K (notice a bigger bonus for that Fox event). You might assume that June’s UFC 174 he made a base of $127K although those salaries were never officially reported. Eddie Alvarez was paid $100K (show) for his first UFC fight. You might recall when he was originally offered a UFC contract which precipitated the Bellator lawsuit, he was offered $70K for his first match in the UFC. Conor McGregor is already up to $75K base. Cat Zingano only made $9K/$9K which is only a $2K bump from her last fight in April 2013 against Miesha Tate.
The octagon sponsors included MusclePharm, MetroPCS, Alienware, Harley Davidson, Toyo Tires, Fram, UltimatePoker.net, Assassin’s Creed’s latest game, Matefit.me and Bud Light in the center.
Missing from the octagon was long-time sponsor, Xyience, which was purchased by another company that quickly pulled the sponsorship with the UFC.
Yoel Romero was sponsored by likeaboss.com. I’m not sure what they do.
Cain Velasquez appeared in a promo for Harley Davidson Motorcycle’s “Hometown Throwdown.”
Mighty Mouse had his traditional sponsor of Xbox 360. The only sponsor for Johnson, his fight banner told folks to pre-order an Xbox One. I thought those were already available? If you were wondering, on his recent Wrestling Observer podcast, Dave Meltzer did not know how much Johnson is receiving from Microsoft.
Cariaso was sponsored by Mountek. Really.
Dominick Cruz was sponsored by the Phoenix International Raceway which stuck with him despite Cruz being on the shelf for a long time. It paid off as PIR had a prominent logo on Cruz as he was demolishing Takeya Mizugaki. He also wore the shirt in his post-fight interview.
Odds and ends
-Didn’t mention this earlier, but Cat Zingano-Amanda Nunes fight was the way to start a PPV. Zingano has been through a lot and it appears that she will be the next for Ronda Rousey.
-MMA Fighting has backstage footage of Tim Kennedy confronting Yoel Romero about the extra time he took to get up from his stool in between rounds.
-Interesting that the UFC are rolling out different types of Bruce Lee t-shirts. Hopefully some of the money that I suppose the estate is receiving from licensing his likeness is going toward this.
-Dominick Cruz won me over in just the 61 seconds of work. First, his Jay Z/Cypress Hill remix entrance, Then, the plain black CRUZ sweatshirt. Easily the best thing anyone has worn to the octagon in the history of this sport. Finally, his “Alpha-Fails” drop is probably one of the best post-fight lines in a while.
-UFC on Fox YouTube channel has the whole 61 second Cruz return fight.
-Some argument as to whether Cruz fight should have been on PPV. You can see it as perhaps a concession to boost FS1 ratings. In hindsight, all of the fights on the PPV were great and hard to see replacing one.
-The good news is that the clay pigeons that Cerrone shot during that Embedded episode were not real as they were made at the same place that Floyd Mayweather got his fake weed from All Access.
-Not surprising, but according to Google Trends, Dublin and Ireland were the most interested city and country for search term “UFC 178”.
This was to be Jones-Gus II. But after that was scrapped, it was Jones-Cormier. After the Jones-Cormier media day brawl in August, one could have made the argument that UFC 178 would be the second-biggest PPV event of the year after UFC 175. But with Jones getting injured, the need to adjust the lineup probably hurt the buy rate. Overall, this card was very solid with every PPV fight being an entertaining one. However, selling the Johnson-Cariaso was tough and you might infer that most of the pre-fight hype was for McGregor-Poirier. Although McGregor could be a breakout PPV star, he is not one yet.
While Google Trends saw an uptick in searches for UFC 178 from Ireland, it’s worth to note that the US was the 4th interested country for the event. In the end, a buy rate of 300,000-325,000 seems reasonable.
September 14, 2014
Zuffa has settled with PPV pirate Steven Mussina according to company press release sent out Saturday. Although terms of the settlement agreement were not disclosed, Mussina, who was accused of pirating at least 141 UFC PPVs, will comply with the wishes of Zuffa and provide information on how he circumvented the pay per view system.
Via UFC press release:
Steven Messina, through his attorney, Michael Heitmann, confessed to his illegal behavior and apologized for his actions that resulted in the illegal sharing of UFC content. As part of the settlement, Messina was penalized by the UFC for an undisclosed amount and forced to surrender his computer hardware and software to UFC representatives. Additionally, Messina will turn over all records and information pertaining to piracy of UFC content and information related to other potential infringers. He must also cooperate with the UFC organization and law enforcement authorities in an effort to prevent others from stealing intellectual property.
When asked about the settlement, Messina said, “I apologize to the UFC for any damages incurred as a result of my actions in illegally distributing copyrighted UFC broadcasts. As a result of my confession for piracy of UFC’s protected content, I fully accept the terms of the settlement with the UFC.”
Messina also states, “I now realize the harm caused by my actions. It is my hope that I can use this difficult period as a learning experience as I move on with my life. I would also like to tell anyone pirating UFC broadcasts, either through illegal downloading or non-authorized streaming, that it is illegal and not worth the risk.”
As part of the settlement, Messina will provide details of his procedures that led to the unauthorized distribution of an estimated 200 hours of UFC content and will offer his records to the UFC to further prevent illegal usage or sharing of the company’s broadcasts.
The settlement is the best possible outcome for the UFC. Let’s face it, while the initial claim that Zuffa was seeking $32 million from Messina seemed intimidating, it would have never happened. Messina did not have the money (and who does, unless you just beat Marcos Maidana for the second time). Even if you obtained a judgment against Messina, one can surmise he does not have any assets that would satisfy the damage Zuffa claims (even if it’s less than $32M). Here, Zuffa gets an on the record ‘crime doesn’t pay’ statement from Messina plus information on how he was able to obtain UFC PPVs without paying. This may provide some insight for Zuffa to see how it may better crack down on piracy.
September 8, 2014
Late last week, the last round of briefing in its motions for summary judgment have been filed by the parties in the Zuffa lawsuit in New York. Both sides made its final arguments to the Court in hopes of prevailing on summary judgment. The parties filed its reply briefs which address arguments made by the opposing side which rebut the initial summary judgment motions made by the parties.
To refresh your memory, New York is seeking to dismiss Zuffa’s lawsuit in total. It has already dismissed 6 of the 7 claims made by Zuffa in the lawsuit to legalize pro MMA in the state. Zuffa is attempting to strike down the law with its motion.
Zuffa’s Reply Brief
Zuffa reiterates some key points in its final briefing before the Court’s review. The emphasis is that the statute banning pro MMA (sec. 8905-a) is unconstitutionally vague (which is the remaining legal claim).
First, it notes that there are two independent reasons why a statute is vague: 1) lack of notice; and 2) the statute’s arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement. Zuffa states that the first prong is sufficient for the court to grant summary judgment in favor of Zuffa. In explaining its position, Zuffa states the standard that “a person of ordinary intelligence” would have reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited. Here, it argues that no one could know what is prohibited based on this statute.
The overarching theme for Zuffa is that the statute is so confusing that even state officials are not able to interpret it. It hammers home this point through the example of the state’s Attorney General agreeing at oral argument that an exempt organization can sanction a pro MMA event. Thus, how can the law be enforced.
In addition, it refutes an argument made by New York in its opposition brief that exempt organizations can sanction to only “single discipline” “traditional” “long recognized” martial arts. Zuffa points out in its legal argument that New York misinterprets and/or misreads the statute in its favor. Essentially, New York attempts to cite legislative history when one need only look to the plain meaning of the statute. Nowhere in the statute does it preclude pro MMA from being sanctioned by an exempt organization. Yet, Zuffa argues that New York tries to read into the statute. Zuffa also argues that the state’s enforcement has been arbitrary or discriminatory. In this argument, it states that after discovery in the case, it became clear that state officials lacked clear guidance in enforcing the statute. Here, Zuffa points out inconsistencies obtained through the discovery process (i.e., written interrogatories and/or depositions).
New York Reply Brief
New York argues for the dismissal of Zuffa’s case and in so doing it reiterates its strategy that the plaintiffs lack legal standing to bring this claim in federal court. It also argued that due to the fact that the statute is one of state law, a state court should render the opinion here. In supporting its lack of legal standing argument, it suggests that Zuffa had a mere “oral understanding” with an exempt organization (here the World Kickboxing Association) when Zuffa argued that it had an agreement with the WKA to sanction an event in the state. If it is found that there was an agreement, it would satisfy the legal standards of standing as there would be a recognizable injury (i.e., New York is preventing Zuffa from conducting an event through the WKA).
However, New York points out there was no written contract, details or anything else that has surfaced as evidence. New York also notes that the declarations in support do not indicate when the agreement between Zuffa and WKA took place. It also intimates that the claim that Zuffa and WKA had an agreement to sanction an event did not happen until after the filing of this lawsuit. It also argues that a state statute should be interpreted by a state court and that Federal jurisdiction should abstain from ruling until the state has interpreted the law. Here, it appears that a state court has yet to generate an opinion on the statute. In addition to its briefing, there is also the motion to strike brought by New York regarding some of the evidence cited by Zuffa in its briefing. If the court were to grant New York’s motion, a huge chunk of Zuffa’s argument would go away.
It does not appear that the court has determined whether there will be an oral argument in this case. The court, in its discretion, may review the pleadings and decide at that point whether an oral argument will help it make its decision. Once again, Zuffa provides solid legal arguments. The question is whether the arguments would satisfy the Summary Judgment standard which is whether there are no genuine issues of material fact, summary judgment is proper. As for New York, it is giving the court “an out” with its arguments (lack standing, state court proper forum). MMA Payout will continue to keep you posted.
August 24, 2014
Late last week Zuffa and the State of New York have filed its opposition to each party’s motions for summary judgment. The responsive briefing is the continued litigation in the UFC’s quest to legalize professional MMA in the state.
As you may recall, both parties filed Motions for Summary Judgment. New York filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in hopes of dismissing the remaining claim by Zuffa that the New York law that bans professional MMA is unconstitutionally vague. Zuffa’s Motion for Summary Judgment would essentially strike down the law and preclude New York from its enforcement.
In its opposition to New York’s Motion for Summary Judgment it claims that it has standing to raise its challenge to the New York statute. The argument is in direct rebuttal to New York’s assertion in its moving papers that Zuffa had no standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place since it could not claim injury. Zuffa contends that it does have standing since it was the “object” of the state regulation. Here, Zuffa argues that it was a direct object of the law as it is prohibiting professional MMA in the state.
In addition, it rebuts New York’s contention that there was no injury (and thus no standing). The first was the claim that Zuffa had no plans to hold an event in New York and thus there was no injury. The second contention was that Zuffa had no agreement with an Exempt Organization in the statute (which would allow for it to hold an event in the state). However, Zuffa argues that it “has taken all steps – short of violating the criminal law – to hold a professional MMA event in New York and it need not put itself in legal jeopardy to establish standing.” In fact, in its brief, it indicates it has secured a date at Madison Square Garden for 2015. It also cites that the UFC had discussions with the WKA (“World Kickboxing Association”), an Exempt Organization under the New York law, about working together to hold a UFC event. Zuffa contends that there was a “meeting of the minds” about putting together professional matches in New York.
The opposition papers from Zuffa also argue that the statute in question is vague as to whether it is enforceable on Indian reservations in New York. Specifically, Zuffa argues in its pleadings that “it is interested in promoting events on Indian reservations in New York – particularly if it is unable to do so elsewhere in the state.”
New York responds to this assertion about its enforcement of a state statute on an Indian reservation (which as many know, Indian reservations are governed by federal law). New York argued that it has dominion over “offenses on Indian reservations within the State of New York to the same extent that it has over offenses commented elsewhere in the State.”
In addition, the papers also argue over the vagueness of the statute as it pertains to amateur MMA and the New York liquor statute which allows licenses at events.
Notably, New York is seeking to strike some of the evidence which Zuffa attached to its initial Motion for Summary Judgment stating that it is inadmissible for a variety of evidentiary reasons (e.g., lack of authentication, hearsay, irrelevance, opinion, etc.). The court will have to determine New York’s motion to strike prior to determining how to rule on Zuffa’s motion. Some of the evidence New York would like to have stricken from consideration is the issue with the differing interpretations of the law banning professional MMA in the state by multiple government officials.
The legal argument continues. Zuffa appears to have the clearer arguments in the opposition briefing. However, New York is seeking to strike the evidence which appears to be the most damaging – the multiple interpretations of enforcement of the law. This would undercut the argument that the statute is unconstitutionally vague since a portion of the legal argument is that the multiple interpretations of the law by the same officials that are to enforce it is evidence that the law is vague. If that evidence is wiped from the record, there’s less for the court to consider. We will see how each side responds to the opposition briefing. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
August 21, 2014
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by boxer Andre Ward which attempted to terminate his promotional contract with promoter Dan Goossen. Although the case was dismissed, there are other pending lawsuits between the boxer and promoter.
Ward had filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking declaratory relief which would invalidate the promotional contract with Goossen. Ward argued that the promotional contact he signed with Goossen exceeded the seven year maximum which would be in violation of California Labor Code Section 2855. Ward and his counsel had argued that the Court ruling should have preceded the CSAC Arbitration hearing this past spring. As you may recall, the CSAC ruled in favor of Goossen in determining the validity of the promotional contact. Adding insult to injury, the court used the CSAC ruling as guidance for its own ruling that the promotional contract was valid.
Although Ward lost here, he has filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Bay Area citing violation of the Muhammad Ali Act. As a result, Goossen has filed his own lawsuit for defamation which relates to statements made alleging Goossen’s promotional activities should be investigated for criminal activities.
Realistically, the loss here may not be as big as one might think. Essentially, the CSAC had ruled on the promotional agreement and the court appears to have just followed suit. Ward’s legal team is likely focusing on the Ali Act violations as well as defending the Goossen defamation lawsuit. Ward’s team might try to remove the Goossen lawsuit from LA Superior Court and “consolidate” it with its claim in federal court. This may be a strategic maneuver by Ward’s legal team and also a practical matter as there would be two different lawsuits in different courts (one federal, one state) with different court deadlines.
August 20, 2014
Boxing promoter Dan Goossen has filed a lawsuit against boxer Andre Ward and his attorneys as a result of Ward’s lawsuit claiming that the promoter violated the Ali Act when promoting the super middleweight.
The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court accuses Ward, his attorney James McCarroll and McCarroll’s law firm Reed Smith of “character assassination.” Ward had filed a lawsuit claiming that Dan Goossen of not providing financial disclosure information pursuant to the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. Prior to that, the two sides battled over the length of Ward’s promotional contract with Goossen. In that round this past spring, in an arbitration hearing, the California State Athletic Commission ruled in favor of Goossen,
Goossen now is claiming $10 million dollars in damages plus attorney fees as a result of what the promoter claims is a “vicious campaign to smear” him. The lawsuit appears to be due in part to public comments made by Andre Ward to BoxingScene.com that Goossen violated the Ali Act and that the U.S. Attorney’s Office launch a criminal investigation.
(H/t: Boxing Scene)
Boxing lawsuits never disappoint. From Goossen’s perspective, the inference that he is doing something criminal without factual evidence (not yet presented) feasibly hurts his business and you may see why he is filing the lawsuit. But can he prove a claim of defamation? The key issue in a defamation claim is that the individual making the defamatory statement must know that the statement is false. This may be a tough hurdle to surpass but we recently saw this occur with the Jesse Ventura defamation lawsuit.
Obviously, a lawyer accusing another lawyer of misrepresenting the truth is (believe it or not) frowned upon and is the proverbial “white glove slap across the face.” Look for this lawsuit, and the Andre Ward lawsuit, to heat up in the future. MMA Payout will keep you posted.
August 11, 2014
Andre Ward has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California against his promoter, Goossen Tutor Promotions and Dan Goosen. The lawsuit is premised upon the Muhammad Ali Act.
The lawsuit, filed on August 4th cites violations made by Dan Goossen which violate the federal law which was put in place to protect boxers from exploitation inside and outside of the ring. Namely, Ward accuses Goossen of not providing him with the proper payout information prior to an event which is required pursuant to the Ali Act.
The Complaint (found here) states that “Since the inception of Goosen’s tenure as Mr. Ward’s promoter in 2004, and continuing to the present, Goossen has repeatedly and systematically violated all disclosure requirements under the Ali Act by failing to timely provide Mr. Ward with full and complete disclosures.” The Complaint cites several specific fights where Goossen did not provide Ward the necessary payout information which would have included: 1) the amounts of any compensation or consideration that a promoter has contracted to receive from such match; 2) all fees, charges, and expenses that will be assessed by or through the promoter on the boxer pertaining to the event, including any portion of the boxer’s purse that the promoter will receive, and training expenses; 3) and any reduction in a boxer’s purse contrary to a previous agreement between the promoter and the boxer or a purse bid held for the event. (per Ali Act 15 U.S.C. sec 6307(c).
It was not until the spring of 2013 that Ward’s manager demanded the information from Goossen. According to the Complaint, Goossen failed to comply and when he did provide information it was “woefully inadequate.”
The Complaint requests that Goossen “provide a full accounting of all revenues and expenses related to any boxing matches in which Mr. Ward participated and Goossen served as promoter including, but not limited to, barter arrangements, multi-bout television and venue agreements, or any other boxing events originating from the relationship with Mr. Ward.”
Notably, the parties have gone to Arbitration in California this past spring with Goossen prevailing. However, Ward did not even show up to the Arbitration as it was his counsel’s contention that the Arbitration was not valid. The California State Athletic Commission ruled that the Arbitration this spring was valid since there was no previous objection. As far as the substantive issue at Arbitration goes, the parties disputed the duration of the promotional agreement. Due to a shoulder injury which sidelined Ward for a year, the question was whether the promotional agreement should be extended due to the injury to Ward. CSAC held that Ward was uncooperative when he returned from injury in seeking out a fight and thus the agreement’s original expiration was extended 14 months.
The lawsuit is just the latest in the ongoing saga with Andre Ward and his promoter. For what it is supposed to be, the Muhammad Ali Act has not had many boxers use it and prevail. We will see based on the information that will undoubtedly surface in the discovery process. It will be interesting what explanation is given by Goossen as it relates to the purported failure to provide Ward with payout information. Then again, the question of why it took so long for Ward to report this violation is something that will likely come up too.
MMA Payout will keep you posted.